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Roosters go outright top on NRL ladder

Shaun Kenny-Dowall

A potentially season-ending ankle injury to stand-in captain Boyd Cordner has soured a watershed night for NRL title favourites the Sydney Roosters.
Roosters go outright top on NRL ladder
by AAP

By Darren Walton

SYDNEY, Aug 10 AAP - A potentially season-ending ankle injury to stand-in captain Boyd Cordner has soured a watershed night for NRL title favourites the Sydney Roosters.

The Roosters edged out Canberra 28-22 to seize sole possession of the competition lead for the first time since the Brad Fittler-led golden era of almost a decade ago.

With five-eighth James Maloney starring, the Roosters ran in five tries to four to also take a stranglehold on the minor premiership following South Sydney's latest slip-up on Friday night against Melbourne.

The Roosters haven't won the minor premiership since 2004 in Fittler's last season.

The former Australian captain led the foundation club to 10 straight finals series - including four grand finals in five years - and the Roosters to their last title in 2002.

But they haven't topped the table outright since his retirement - until now.

First-year captain Trent Robinson was in no mood to celebrate, though, as he faced the prospect of being without Cordner for the rest of the year after the 21-year-old State of Origin back-rower was rushed to hospital with a suspected serious ankle injury.

"He couldn't weight bear, so it didn't look good," Robinson said.

Cordner, co-captaining the side with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in the absence of injured fullback Anthony Minichiello, was the youngest Roosters skipper since 1944 and Robinson was desperately hoping he wouldn't be sidelined for the rest of the season.

"He's such a key player for us, Boyd," Robinson said.

"And for such a young player, he's such an important part of our team."

With a vastly superior points differential to Souths and a softer run home than the second-placed Rabbitohs, the Roosters could conceivably even lose their round-26 showdown with their fierce inner-city rivals in four weeks at ANZ Stadium and still clinch the JJ Giltinan Shield.

But Robinson also refused to celebrate the Roosters' lofty standing after allowing the Blake Ferguson-inspired Raiders to storm home and threaten to force the match into golden-point extra time.

"It's nice to be where we're sitting, but we need to play better footy," Robinson said.

"It's not a night that we're going to be proud of.

"We've really tried to set our standards high this year and we let ourselves down tonight, I think, on those standards."

Canberra's loss was also a costly one, with the seventh-placed Raiders now vulnerable to falling out of the top eight this weekend and also likely to be without their captain and playmaker Terry Campese for an extended period.

Campese was also taken to hospital after clashing with teammate David Shillington and suffering a suspected fractured eye socket.

"He's not in a good way," said Raiders coach David Furner.

The Roosters had Maloney largely to thank for their win, with the Blues' Origin five-eighth having a hand or boot in three of his team's five tries, scoring the first with a 60-metre intercept effort and landing four conversions for a personal haul of 12 points.

Blues teammate Michael Jennings collected a tryscoring double, while Ferguson - playing his first match since being suspended for a nightclub incident during the Origin series - also claimed a brace in a standout display for the Raiders.

Both Ferguson's tries came from nothing and his comeback was a shining light for the Raiders.

"We've said all week, we can't knock his on-field performances. He's a really special player," Shillington said.

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